How to Write Scannable Blog Content – And Why
Written content is, without a doubt, one of the most essential aspects of content marketing. No matter if it comes in a form of a blog post, case study, ebook, or social media post, it is among the best ways to attract the attention of the desired audience. It can get users to understand better what you are about while simultaneously helping you establish authority in your field.
That being said, holding the attention of potential customers is easier to do in theory than in practice. Regardless of how well-written your content is or how many useful facts it is supported by, if you don’t find a way to engage your audience, all your hard effort will go in vain.
The solution to this lies in creating content that is scannable, first and foremost. Scanning is a reading technique that involves selectively reading and skipping through different bits of a text. Unlike skimming (which usually means reading the main points of the text fast and skipping some details to get the general idea of what it is about), scanning is used to find specific information within the text. As such, it is one of the most widespread reading techniques out there, even more common than actually reading a text thoroughly.
There are many effective ways to garner the attention of potential readers and make your content easier to scan through. And we are going to use this chance to share some of them. But first, let’s explain why creating scannable content is so important in the first place.
Why Is Scannable Content So Valuable
These days, most people run on such tight schedules they have no time to consume content in its entirety and just want to find valuable information as fast as possible. In other words, most users are rarely reading your content word for word. Rather, they look for the most important pieces of information by doing a so-called speed reading. On average, only 16% of people end up reading the entire post, from beginning to the end, while the rest engage in content scanning.
Sometimes, quickly scanning through content can actually drive people to check out more of what you have to offer. The truth is, people make their decisions rather quickly online. If they find some benefits to your text after scanning through it, they may decide to give it a more thorough read, perhaps even share it. If your text doesn’t allow for scanning and does not provide value right away, they might end up closing the tab altogether and abandoning your content for good, possibly without ever coming back.
Therefore, it’s extremely important to create articles that can hold the attention of users while being informative at the same time. By doing so, you increase your chances of establishing authority in your niche. In turn, this can boost the online visibility of your site and can bring you more conversions and sales in the long run.
So, let’s take a look into some of the best strategies to make your blog content more scannable:
By breaking your content into sections and introducing key points using subheadings, you give readers a chance to scan through your content with ease by moving from one subheading to the next. This way, they can quickly decide whether the content has any value for them. You should introduce subheadings wherever appropriate to keep readers moving. If your content is long, use at least three or four subheadings to separate different sections of your article. Also, you should make sure that each section has an engaging introduction to hook a visitor to read it in its entirety.
Finally, don’t forget to add header tags to indicate different types of headings and subheadings (H1, H2, H3, and so on). This will help search engines scan your content more easily as well, which is highly important for the better ranking of your site and the overall visibility on search engines.
Even if you have plenty of info that you want to offer to your readers, you can be easily tempted to make your sentences (and paragraphs) too long. Still, it’s always better to keep your content short and straight to the point. By doing so, you will help users move through the sentences more quickly and efficiently while keeping them engaged at the same time. Of course, it’s perfectly okay to create a few long and complex sentences from time to time. In general, however, you should aim to keep them short and concise, whenever you can.
By adding lots of white space into your text, you can make even the most intricate types of content more scannable and engaging. Make sure your page design allows for a wide breathing room between paragraphs and consider introducing a higher line spacing. Don’t shove in too many words and try to keep your paragraphs short in general. You can even incorporate a rule of introducing one idea per paragraph to make it more readable. Finally, add line breaks and arrange your headings and subheadings into a few easily digestible paragraphs.
To add visual variety to your posts and make them even more scannable, we suggest incorporating lists or bullet points into your content. This works best if you want to present a series of key points about a specific topic. Bullet points look different compared to the rest of your text, so this makes them easily noticeable and scannable in general.
By providing appropriate internal and external links to your content, you can help users learn more about the topics related to it while increasing your online authority at the same time. Internal links keep users engaged with the rest of your content and make your site easier to navigate, while external links can refer to sources that will provide some extra information to readers. Make sure to add both types of links for the best possible results.
Purposefully highlighting some of the most important parts of your content is one of the best ways to keep your readers engaged. This will only further help out readers when scanning through your articles and allow them to notice the most vital information fast.
You should emphasize different words, phrases, or even entire sentences (if needed) by putting them in bold. If you want, you can also use italics, underline your text, or combine these highlight methods in selected places. That being said, you shouldn’t go overboard when highlighting your content as it can easily make your readers overwhelmed or confused at what’s actually relevant.
Adding a table of contents is another great way to make your content more scannable. Usually located at the beginning of a post, a table of contents can help readers get a better idea of what they can expect if they keep reading while simultaneously helping them reach what they need quickly and efficiently through anchor links. This can make your content more organized and easier to navigate. Once they click on the specific item in your table of contents, they will be sent to the corresponding section fast, which saves them much valuable time and keeps them engaged with what you have to say.
A headline is usually the first thing that people will see related to your content. As such, it can make or break your chances of readers checking out the rest. Therefore, you should produce eye-catching headlines that can sum up the gist of your content at the same time. There are many headline analyzer tools on the web you can use to create attractive and converting headlines. The same, of course, goes for subheadings, too.
While written text remains one of the most powerful aspects of content marketing, the effectiveness of visuals is undeniable and far-reaching. Readers are usually attracted to images when reading different types of written content. So, by adding pictures, illustrations, and even different types of video content in between paragraphs, you can easily grab their attention and increase your engagement. Plus, you can offer them a much-needed break while keeping them interested to read more. Last but not least, aim to use imagery that is relevant to the subject right under (or above) your most important points. This will make readers relate to your written text better.
This sort of goes without saying. Still, since marketers pay so much attention to optimizing content for search engines, sometimes it can be easy to forget that ultimately, content is being written for humans. This means that your writing should be as “human” as possible as well.
You can try using a more conversational way of writing – for example, you can introduce some casual words or phrases here and there – if your niche, brand and stylebook allow for it, of course. Another way to do this is to be as relatable as possible to your audience. Share your own experiences when explaining certain topics to users. Find a way to tell your story by using examples that are logical, simple to understand, and relatable all at once.
Although writing scannable content may seem complicated at first, by sticking to some of the suggestions we presented above, you can significantly improve your content’s readability and generate much-needed engagement. Just make sure to keep things short and concise, break your content into smaller, readable sections whenever you can, and provide some variety to the look and structure of your content. Stick to these rules, and sooner or later, you’re bound to see some results.
Before we go, we should also mention that there are some great online tools for writing blog posts that will be able to assist you quite well during your content creation journey. So on top of using the above-mentioned strategies, we highly recommend you to check these tools out as well.